Originally Posted by licence2kill
Why did parliamentary britain and not imperial china develop technology and institutions to exploit these resources which lead to the greatest economic growth in history?
Prior to the 18th century, China had undergone quite a bit of civil unrest. Though they still retained a powerful position despite these problems. Arrogance at the hands had a bit to do with the lack of industrialization. Though it needs to be noted that they produced significant scientific discoveries which Europeans took full advantage of. Anyway. Imperial China believed it had achieved superiority, which it arguably did, despite issues with arable land. It considered Europeans to be smelly ingrates essentially. It also suffered from the lack of any significant competition which might have stifled that arrogance. To my knowledge, China didn't and still doesn't have significant natural resources conductive to industry.
Competition was something which GB had with neighborhood states whom they pulled ahead of due to abundance of natural resource and coastal location. There is also theories that Judeo Christian philosophy pertaining to the individual had much to do with the emergent institutions.
To me, the big two are resources and need. Specifically that China didn't surmise a need to improve on it's methods whereas GB and the rest of Europe were emerging from a complete slump. The lack of resources in this equation cannot be overstated.
Another interesting tidbit. The Chinese believed at the time that hand made goods were of higher quality and the demand for these goods would surpass that of machine made goods.